44.6 F
Seattle
Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Has Amazon Grown Too Large?

In the latest issue of the New Yorker, writer Charles Duhigg raises many of the concerns frequently expressed by Elizabeth Warren and others that Amazon may have become too powerful.

Much of the reporting comes from Ian Freed, a technical assistant to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who played a key role in the development of several key Amazon initiatives, including “Alexa” its speech-recognition software.

Freed was, for the most part, impressed by his boss’s leadership style: Bezos’s insistence that executives focus on simplifying processes; his emphasis on in-depth product proposals rather than PowerPoints; and his creation of a culture “designed to prevent bureaucracies. “Everything Jeff does is to stop a big-company mentality from taking hold,” Freed told the author.

Amazon executives were given freedom to make mistakes and move on. Although Freed was involved in the Fire Phone, a smart phone that resulted in Amazon writing off $170 million in losses, Bezos told him, “You can’t, for one minute, feel bad about the Fire Phone. Promise me you won’t lose a minute of sleep.”

But Duhigg then transitions to some of the problems at Amazon, including its treatment of employees in warehouses and the intense pressure on executives to perform. He quotes an employee who tore an intervertebral disc in her back while working in an Amazon warehouse. Amazon didn’t offer her time off and her managers didn’t seem to care. She quit Amazon and got an office job. “Amazon doesn’t want humans, they want robots,” she told the author.

Amazon responds that it has increased automation in its warehouses precisely to ease physical tasks. One Amazon executive said, “It’s a hard economy for people without college degrees right now. We can’t run a philanthropy, but we’re trying to be the best of those bad kinds of jobs.”

Image: Wikimedia

Leslie Helm
Leslie Helm
Leslie Helm is the former Editor of Seattle Business magazine and former Tokyo Correspondent for the Los Angeles Times

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

LATEST

King County, E-book-Lending Capital Of The World

King County Library System is the third-busiest e-book lender in the country (after the Los Angeles Public Library and the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium) and fourth-largest in the world (Toronto is No.1 with more than 6 million checkouts). But the Seattle region tops all libraries in digital checkouts when you add in Seattle Public Libraries, which posted more than 3 million digital checkouts in 2019.

Has Downtown Seattle Become a War Zone?

Add to the crime problem the coming years of "The Seattle Squeeze," caused by massive construction activity, and you have a Downtown Seattle under political strain.

Don’t Get Shot! Will Gray Wolves Be Dropped From The Endangered Species List?

If wolves lose all federal protection, as is now threatened, they still have the state. But Washington state policy looks uncertain.

Urban Asset: What To Do With Underused Churches

Purchasing a church is not easy, as the congregation is normally split between the sell-and-move faction and the nostalgic-stay-put group. It took the congregation of the Christian Science Church about 10 years to make a decision -- the kind of debate and delay that often chases off developers. But what lovely assets these old sanctuaries are!

Are We Going To Save Orcas Or Not? Another Blow to Chinook Salmon

"Fishery managers and NOAA could resolve this by moving Southeast Alaska’s Chinook fishery in or near the Alaskan rivers where their Chinook were born, allowing Chinook from down the coast to migrate back to their home rivers along the coast, and giving Southern Resident killer whales a chance to feed.”

TRENDING

Has Downtown Seattle Become a War Zone?

Add to the crime problem the coming years of "The Seattle Squeeze," caused by massive construction activity, and you have a Downtown Seattle under political strain.

Urban Asset: What To Do With Underused Churches

Purchasing a church is not easy, as the congregation is normally split between the sell-and-move faction and the nostalgic-stay-put group. It took the congregation of the Christian Science Church about 10 years to make a decision -- the kind of debate and delay that often chases off developers. But what lovely assets these old sanctuaries are!

King County, E-book-Lending Capital Of The World

King County Library System is the third-busiest e-book lender in the country (after the Los Angeles Public Library and the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium) and fourth-largest in the world (Toronto is No.1 with more than 6 million checkouts). But the Seattle region tops all libraries in digital checkouts when you add in Seattle Public Libraries, which posted more than 3 million digital checkouts in 2019.

Review: “Evgenyi Onegin” – Pain! Passion! Poetry! (hold the irony . . .)

I suddenly realized how lucky we are to have it at all. If the poet who created the story and the composer who set it to music 40 years later had ever actually met, they would probably have disliked each other enough to make collaboration impossible.

Humor: Tips on Buying Off Shakedown Artists on the Phone

It was Seattle City light threatening to turn off my electricity unless I paid them $857 immediately. I told them to collect a $1,000 Amazon gift card.